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Community Team
Community Team

Hack Night; What do you want to work on?

Hack Night is an event where programmers, engineers, LMS admins, instructional designers, teachers and anyone else interested in hacking Canvas and Canvas courses come together to hack the APIs, course design, apps, bugs and anything else they want to work on together.  Some conversations and questions are more technical in nature than others but everyone is welcome.  This year Hack Night will happen in the same place and time as last year - Shivano/Red Cloud on Wednesday, starting at 8 PM.  The format is that anyone can suggest a topic for any conversation/table. 

Last year we had table top mini posters with suggested topics designed to be people started.  They were:

course templates

writing good course objectives

writing good rubrics (alignment)

RCE; Beyond the Basics

Fun and effective embeddable tools

Tips for large classes

Teaching in the lab w/ Canvas

What is in your onboarding course?

CSS customization to add personal style to Canvas

JavaScript tricks super charge your course

API's to speed up your daily tasks

What can I do with CSS & JavaScipt?

How could I make Canvas do X?

It seems like many people are interested in learning more about what can be accomplished with APIs.  Other people come with specific javascript questions or 'In language X, how do I get Canvas to do Y'  Another idea would be to have a Getting Started with programming station.  Canvas engineers have historically just filtered out to various round tables.  One suggestion this year was to have some of them sit at square tables that people who have technical questions can queue up in front of.

 What do you think about all of this? Do do you want to work on this year?

54 Replies

How could I make Canvas do X?

That one covers a lot of ground, so it gets my vote.

Community Member

You know I love EMBEDDABLE TOOLS...... 🙂

Community Team
Community Team

I'll send a list over to the printer next Tuesday so an other additions people have between now and then would be great.


I like the embeddable tools topic, Laura, for sure.  Would you envision this more on the 'hack your course'/not as technical side of things?



An idea came up today to have topics that are more technology themed than Canvas component themed.  I can see where having an API generalists table would maybe be good.  Are there other specific topics you can think of?  Would 'How to Javascript' be counterproductive, for example?


Yes, less technical: it's a kind of "javascript for the rest of us" approach -- how you can use javascript widgets but without needing any admin privileges at all, and without even knowing how to write javascript! 🙂


Sorry for the delay in responding -- been running around a lot recently and only being able to write snippets here and there.

There seemed to be two major groups. The Canvas Developer type hacker who wants to spend time talking to people about how to do technical things like make API calls or figure out this one thing, whatever it is, that is the stumbling block keeping them from moving forward with their latest, greatest project. There are people who go to hack night who are not active in the Community and so you don't get to pick their brains, but a few minutes at hack night can reestablish momentum. JavaScript is one language, but there are others. People use PHP, Perl, Python, .Net, Ruby, etc. Most of the problems I saw people having were not language specific, but API questions. Maybe I was at the wrong tables, but there's lots of documentation online about how to get X programming language to do Y. There's less about how to get Canvas to do Z. Of all the things that have been mentioned, API and JavaScript would probably be the two biggest things. You'll probably have people wanting to talk about LTI and Canvas Data.

The other group were users less interested in programming than collaborating with other like-minded people to see what is going on, what they're doing to handle a certain situation, what the best practices are. This is invaluable, too. is planning a Arc users get-together, probably on Tuesday before the conference kicks off. There's also the unconference on Friday where gasellc has said she is going to propose a data session. It sounds like she wants to meet with people at other times, not just the unconference.

Some of the second group of people that met at hack night might have met up during the unconference last year, but I heard that some people who would have liked to stay weren't able to because it wasn't on the official schedule and so they couldn't justify it to their organization. Thinking out loud, that might draw some of the people away from hack night this year and leave a more technical audience. I'm not sure about that, though, because people get so much out of this conference and they want to maximize the time they spend networking and learning, so even if you said hack night is just for Canvas developers, I think you would still have a large group come in and try to do their own thing anyway.

If that sounds like I'm covering all the bases without really saying anything, that's because it's hard to know what people want to do before they get there. You can certainly make up some table signs ahead of time, but I would also bring blank ones and a Sharpie. It's going to be interesting to see how the unconference comes together.

I loved that there are people who were aware of what was going on at the different tables and would bounce around and help direct people to tables where they might benefit. I still remember my first hack day fondly when Brian Whitmer came over, introduced himself, and led me to two guys from Texas that told me all about JavaScript and what you could do with it. It was smaller then and I don't remember any signs on the tables, but it's gotten so big that it's a necessity now. The table signs can help steer people in the right direction, but you still need those people who can put people together.

Sorry I didn't answer the question.

Adventurer II

I am definitely in the "How could I make Canvas do X?" particularly with JS. I always try to bring my current problems in search of solutions. I truly value the knowledge & willingness to share by the members of the community & Instructure programmers at Hack Night. 

Learner II

I would also include some ideas of deep diving in Canvas Data. How to make that resource easily navigable and approachable - with some technical know-how and little technical know-how? 

I greatly appreciated the API discussions I had last year, so definitely keep those.

And yes, I'm a big fan of the "How could I make Canvas do X?" question - especially in regards to JS and CSS. 

Thanks for making this happen!